The Joys Of Self-Governance

The Parliament building has its own security arrangements, not managed by either the American military or by the Interior Ministry of Police or Ministry of Defense, said Mr. Rubaie, the security adviser to Prime Minister Maliki.

Several lawmakers said that their guards were often able to bully their way through checkpoints without being searched and that some carried high-level badges that made them and their vehicles exempt from being examined when the entered the zone.

– from The New York Times, “Iraqi Lawmakers Meet After Blast”

In the same article, there is this below:

“This is a great blow to the government, which is always talking about security and how it is improving with the Americans, but it’s a great violation of their security plan,” Ali al-Mayali, an injured legislator from the bloc allied with the militant Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, said as he sat outside the hospital, holding gauze to his head to stanch bleeding from a shrapnel wound.

My first impulse, had I been in the room with this al-Sadr owned moron, would have been to beat him within one inch of his life and spit in his face. Then again, I would have been tempted to have bombers drop bombs on the crowds marching on the day Baghdad fell, those lovely crowds that want the Americans out and think al-Sadr and his Iranian friends are the greatest men alive. If others are allowed to be violent in Iraq, and are being empowered by their bullying, why must those of us who want freedom and safety refrain from violence?

The theoretical difficulty is simple: it is hard enough to get along with people when lives aren’t on the line, when peace is the norm. How much harder is it when politics is a life and death game?

There is an irony, of course: if I get angry at these Iraqis for endangering our troops as well as each other and themselves, how much more angry should I get at liberals that are dishonest about the anarchism underlying their ideas and thus are only pretending they’re answering my concerns when they talk to me? How much angrier should I be at someone like Francis Fukuyama, who thinks being a serious intellectual is being trendy and critical and saying “I’m not responsible for anything anyone else thinks?”

Ultimately, one has to be passive to a degree in a democracy if one knows better. I can’t hit people here or attack them – I don’t want to do any of that, that’s a large part of knowing better (“don’t hurt people,” “do no harm”). But Iraq might be a different story, given that quite a few people there think it is fun to kidnap people and videotape beheadings.

The sick thing about al-Mayali isn’t merely that he’s a spokesman for a paramilitary group backed by Iran and opposed to the sovereignty of Iraq, it isn’t that he would probably welcome any number of attacks that topple the government and yet was elected into that same government. No, the really sick thing about him is that we’re used to his sort of response to things – look at how quickly he spins a violent attack caused, in part, by Parliament’s asserting their authority in stupid ways, as the Americans’ fault.

We see analogous behavior every day by our legislators: they’re willing to lie right to our faces about other people to get what they want. We think the fall of our country will be when people take over in a style reminiscent of 1984. I can safely tell you that self-governance is dead when our style of politics and spin is directly echoed by the worst of the worst. I really don’t understand how the entirety of al-Sadr’s army hasn’t been dismantled entirely, and banished from office or brought to justice for all the murders they are responsible for. There are only so many threats to the peace that can be accepted before self-governance is a farce.

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